So your pet has been your “baby” for a long time, but now you’re expecting a newborn child in your life. What can you do to make sure that the arrival of your baby will be a smooth transition for you and your pet? The good news is that you can start right now, before the baby is born. It’s not a drastic change, but there are definitely rules you should know about for having a pet around your newborn.
Introducing your pet to your baby
Training is half the battle won before the baby arrives. First, introduce your pet to all the new things in your home, like nursery furniture and toys. You should train them on appropriate behaviour, such as not jumping on the crib and not playing with items belonging to the baby .Smells are important for pets. When the baby is born, bring home the blankets that smell like the baby. Then when you bring home your baby, your pet will be able to recognize the scent.
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For pet-baby bonding, it’s better to let pet and baby spend time together, rather than having the baby off-limits all the time. This should always be under your supervision, of course, so you can watch out for your baby’s safety. But the more your two babies are around each other, the faster they’ll become the best of friends!
Will my pet be jealous?
Whether your pet becomes possessive and jealous very much depends on its personality. Animals like rabbits and hamsters usually don’t exhibit such emotions. However, if you have a pampered dog or cat that’s used to being the centre of attention, jealousy is possible. Dealing with pet jealousy works in the same way as you would with an older child. Let your pet get to know your baby. Give your pet attention and affection, whether the baby is around or not. This will allow your pet to feel reassured and not see the baby as competition.
With that said, if your pet is behaving aggressively towards your baby, you should immediately give a stern warning. If your pet doesn’t learn this after the first few times, you may need the help of a pet trainer.
Safety precautions you should take
If you have an energetic pet, you may need additional safety reinforcement in your nursery to protect your baby. For example, if your cat likes jumping into the crib, you may want to surround the crib with netting to “cat-proof” it. Safety gates can also work well with cats and dogs.
Another safety issue you should be aware of at home is with hygiene. While you may go “Awww…” to see your pet licking the face of your newborn baby as a sign of affection, doctors don’t recommend allowing this. The saliva of animals like dogs and cats could transmit infectious material that can enter through the eyes or mouth to make the baby sick. When your baby get a bit older, he or she will have a stronger immune system, especially after the immunization shots. You’ll then be able to let him or her play with your pet without worry.
Lastly, you should pay close attention to whether your baby shows signs of allergy to animal dander. To minimize the risks, keep your home clean. You should also brush or bathe your pet frequently. Having a pet doesn’t increase the risk of your baby developing allergies. In fact, studies show that pets actually lower the risk, so don’t worry, pets are good for your child!
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